Sunday, June 12, 2005

Reviewing the Bat

As part of the continuing build-up for next week's Batman Begins movie, the LA Times Book Review supplement today had two serious reviews of books that reprint Batman comics. Mystery writer and sometimes comic book writer Max Collins writes the main review, which compares the recent Batman Chronicles (which reprints the earliest Batman stories from the 30's and 40's, in chronological order) with 1987's Batman: Year One. Why is Collins reviewing an 18-year-old graphic novel? Because (a) it was written by Frank Miller, who is undergoing a new wave of mainstream popularity because of the Sin City movie; (b) from the previews I've seen, Batman Begins apparently uses some elements of the plot from Year One; and (c) Collins thinks Year One artist Dave Mazzuchelli drew the best Batman ever.,1,5638724.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

The sidebar review examines Batman: Cover to Cover, the recent coffee table book which collected several of the nicest Batman comic covers from the past 65 years. I got the book as a birthday present and found it delightful. (It even has an essay from a graphic designer on how the Batman comic's logo has changed over the years.),1,6733313.story

Myself, I'm enjoying the current comics miniseries Batman: Dark Detective, done by the creative team that, nearly 30 years ago, produced one of the best runs of Batman stories: Writer Steve Englehart, penciller Marshall Rogers, and inker Terry Austin. (They even got the original letterer for their 70's stories, John Workman, to letter this series.) All three have worked together in various combinations on other stories, and each has worked on his own on Batman stories since the mid-seventies, but this is the first time all three have been together on the Dark Knight since 1978. So far the miniseries hasn't jelled like the first run did -- the problem with 27 years of expectations -- but it's still delightful to read in an era in which most Batman comics are filled with boring stories and ugly art.


Anonymous said...

I think it would be a smart move to work Adam West into a Batman movie, since that is what the boomers think of when they think of Batman. They could cast him as a "yoda" type wise character or even as Commisioner Gordon. I think it would make Adam feel better and also bring out the Walla Walla crowd.

Danny Barer said...

Both of the recent Batman animated series have used William West Anderson's vocal talents. The early 90's animated series had West as the voice of a washed-up actor who had portrayed a TV superhero, "The Gray Ghost," who had inspired a young Bruce Wayne. The current series, "The Batman," has West as the voice of the mayor of Gotham City. (And who else is the mayor of Gotham, if not Adam West?)